What do OBM Professionals Do? OBM Series

Part 7 of 7

“An [Organizational Behavior Management (OBM)] professional could work in any industry, in any organization, and on any problem or goal important to that organization”

Dr. Allison King, BCBA & Kelly Therrien, MS, BCBA 

OBM is closer to a skill set rather than a job title. The skills developed through coursework and field experience allow OBMers to provide value wherever there is demand for increased performance (org, process, or individual level). While this flexibility may benefit graduate students about to set out on their career paths, the wide range of professional OBM roles may make it difficult to pin down what exactly a “typical” OBM career looks like.

To get a better idea of the different career paths, we asked four OBM professionals to share their unique experiences.

 

Nicki Postma Headshot

1. Nicki Postma

Nicki currently works as the business development manager for Positive Behavior Supports Corp where she works with regional teams to secure and manage contracts with an emphasis on large public-school contracts.


When you were in graduate school, what was your ideal OBM career path?

“Ideally I wanted to get a PhD or work with one of the big consulting firms for OBM.”

How has your training in Organizational Behavior Management/Performance Management prepared you for your career?

“It has taught me the importance of coaching and having a business mind in an industry where the non-clinical work an analyst does is typically non-preferred or not the focus. It has also been helpful to keep the employee at the forefront of business just as much as the clients we serve. This has helped with retention, job satisfaction, and ultimately the overall quality of services.” 

Have you worked with different industries? If so, what were they?

“I have had the opportunity to work in schools, hospitals, and currently in the works with some others outside the clinical world.”

What have your job titles been?

“Regional coordinator, business development manager”

Did you pursue BACB certification?  If so, how meaningful has a BACB certification been to your career in OBM? 

“Once I figured out the likelihood of getting an ‘OBM job’ was minimal, I went the clinical route and applied OBM principles to the clinical setting. I waited a year after graduating with a Masters in OBM to get my certificate because otherwise there weren't any clear immediate job opportunities.”

After Graduate school, did you receive any additional training?  If so, what was it?

“I had the opportunity to complete an internship with CLG (currently Allula) which was a really positive experience.”

What information did your professors provide about potential career paths in OBM?

“Look outside the box for OBM opportunities. It might be in more of an HR position or I/O psych.”

What do you wish you knew about career paths upon finishing Grad School?

“OBM is an application of knowledge and skill set rather than a position.”

 

Kelly Therrien Headshot2. Kelly Therrien

Kelly is currently the Senior Manager of Talent Development for an OBM Consulting firm.


When you were in graduate school, what was your ideal OBM career path?

“When I learned about Performance Management, I wanted to pursue a career in consulting.”

How has your training in Organizational Behavior Management/Performance Management prepared you for your career?

“My education path included depth on ABS concepts and principles along with practical application experiences which are all invaluable to building my consulting skills. The education and practical experiences helped me to get the job in consulting, and I continued to learn and shape the application of those knowledge and skills as I assimilated within the consulting organization.”

Have you worked with different industries?  If so, what were they?

“I have worked in restaurants, nuclear power, human services, oil and gas, mining, transportation, professional services, and non-profits.”

What have your job titles been?

“Consultant Readiness Coordinator, Consultant, Senior Consultant, Project Manager, Product Manager, and currently Senior Manager of Talent Development.”

Did you pursue BACB certification?  If so, how meaningful has a BACB certification been to your career in OBM? 

“Yes, I received my BCBA in 2004 shortly after earning my Masters of Science degree. It has been a nice to have but not a requirement or expectation for the work, clients, or employers I have had over the years.”

After Graduate school, did you receive any additional training?  If so, what was it?

“I participated in company-provided training by my employer related to sales and specific consulting solutions. Recently, I completed a certificate program in Lean Six Sigma and Hogan Assessments.”

What information did your professors provide about potential career paths in OBM?

“I was aware of options for consulting, training and development/instructional design, or research and instructing.”

What do you wish you knew about career paths upon finishing Grad School?

“I feel I was well aware of the limited options available for OBM consulting. But, I do not feel I was as aware of how unknown OBM is and the amount of “selling” I would need to be able to do to speak to OBM and the value for organizations most familiar with MBAs or a business degree.”

What advice do you have for current students pursuing a career in OBM?

“Develop your elevator speech that succinctly describes what you do. Get experience applying OBM and build a portfolio so that you can demonstrate what you can do, not just the degree but the application. Learn to speak about what you did and the results you achieved in layman terms or business terms, translate ABA to everyday language. Partner with others from different disciplines and learn to influence. Much of our work requires working through others - having all the answers and problem solving are not enough. You must also teach, persuade, and help others to change their behavior to attain results.”

 

Kyle Ditzian headshot3. Kyle Ditzian

Kyle is a performance/HR consultant for small businesses. The majority of his clients are tech startups with between 10-100 employees. Kyle also mentors several leaders in the ABA community to help them improve their OBM skills.


When you were in graduate school, what was your ideal OBM career path?

“I intended to become an OBM consultant - though I only vaguely understood what that was when I first got started.”

How has your training in Organizational Behavior Management/Performance Management prepared you for your career?

“Learning the types of questions to ask, interventions to focus on and the impact that those can have has been absolutely vital to my success in the field. I think my background in behavior analysis has allowed me to be FAR more helpful than I might've been without it. Without the training I received, I don't believe that I'd be able to competently do much of what I am currently tasked with.”

Have you worked with different industries?  If so, what were they?

“Tech startups, ABA/autism treatment and to a lesser degree, transportation, animal rescue/adoption, construction/contracting, & the military.”

What have your job titles been?

“Contractor/Performance Consultant, Adjunct Professor, Course Co-Instructor.”

Did you pursue BACB certification?  If so, how meaningful has a BACB certification been to your career in OBM? 

“I am a BCBA. It has honestly only been marginally helpful in my professional practice. I believe it has been important in getting me through the door in ABA organizations, but aside from that and from some of the learning/practice I had to do to obtain the certification it has not really been impactful. It has also sometimes confused people since I am a BCBA that doesn't work within our typical populations/industries - I have been reached out to by multiple organizations attempting to hire clinicians and many of them are not very aware of OBM and what it offers.”

After Graduate school, did you receive any additional training?  If so, what was it?

“I have not done much additional, specific training outside of grad school. I am considering seeking SHRM, PMP and/or Six Sigma certification in the future though.”

What information did your professors provide about potential career paths in OBM?

“Professors gave some info on possible career paths, but because they are so variable (the career paths themselves) I believe it is tough for professors to give much info outside of the fact that training, continuous improvement and management are all strong options. Something my professors did mention (which I think is very useful) is the fact that outside of the ABA community, most people have never heard of OBM so it's important to be careful about how you describe yourself and your work.”

What do you wish you knew about career paths upon finishing Grad School?

“How difficult it can be to find work that is extremely relevant. Depending on the industry you are trying to work in, it can be tough to get a job that is exactly aligned with your interests.”

What advice do you have for current students pursuing a career in OBM?

“Develop an ‘elevator speech’ and practice it so you can describe what you do clearly (try to keep this under a minute long if possible). This can get people interested in your skills and how you might be able to help them. Try to find an organization that you're happy to work within and practice your skills early on. It can also be super useful to seek out additional mentorship or guidance within your specific industry - there is so much nuance to any area of practice. Try to read what your clients are reading - it can be a great way to connect with them where they are at and provide your own spin on things. Something else I forgot to mention on that last question. Familiarize yourself with tech solutions where possible. Learning how to leverage the tech your clients are currently using or tech that might be helpful to them can be a HUGE benefit for all parties involved.”

 

Marshall Feaman Placeholder Headshot4. Marshall Feaman

Marshall currently works in sales for a major wholesale distributor.


When you were in graduate school, what was your ideal OBM career path?

“I wanted to be a business consultant specializing in executive coaching.”

How has your training in Organizational Behavior Management/Performance Management prepared you for your career?

“It has allowed great perspective, and a better understanding of true business needs. My greatest assets I attribute to my training is the quality of the questions I am able to ask and ability to understand/interpret and apply data.”

Have you worked with different industries?  If so, what were they?

“I have worked in the oil industry, insurance, manufacturing, and medical fields.”

What have your job titles been?

“Organizational Capability Consultant, Account Executive”

Did you pursue BACB certification?  If so, how meaningful has a BACB certification been to your career in OBM? 

“Yes, however, I have not worked in clinical settings outside grad school, but the knowledge and skillset acquired for the certification has been very useful.”

After Graduate school, did you receive any additional training?  If so, what was it?

“Many certifications for particular jobs or roles, most recently LEAN Healthcare Facility Advisor, AMS and CIMS.”

What information did your professors provide about potential career paths in OBM?

“Great exposure to the types of careers that OBM can play a key role in, along with introduction to professionals already in the field.”

What do you wish you knew about career paths upon finishing Grad School?

“More companies that use OBM.”

What advice do you have for current students pursuing a career in OBM?

“Seek out as much information as you can, journals, articles, current business trends, podcasts...find a niche or industry/problem/opportunity that interests you and continuously work to better your knowledge and experience in this area of interest.  Network all the time, with your peers but also those older than you/already in the field. Find a mentor if possible from the business community and leverage the depth of knowledge from your professors and advisers, they are an incredible resource. Be honest with yourself and in your work. Be professional. Integrity matters and does not go unnoticed, especially when navigating the corporate world.”

 


Additional Resources:

Interested in refining your OBM skills? The OBM Specialist Certificate is live to provide you with the foundational skills to produce meaningful change in the workplace.

Interested in learning more about professional development?

• Professional Development in Organizational Behavior

• How Do I Get Into OBM?

Interested in learning more about the different areas of OBM practice? Check out our OBM series blogs!

• OBM Prerequisite Skills

• Leadership and Culture

• Training and Development

• Behavior Based Safety (BBS)

• Behavioral Systems Analysis (BSA)

• Performance Management (PM)

 


References:

1King, A., & Therrien, K. (2020). Professional Development in Organizational Behavior  Management. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 40, 153 - 169.: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01608061.2020.1752882?journ…

 

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